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Archive: Unearthing the Metal Underground Columns

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Mythosphere

Mythosphere is a new face, but the unit isn’t exactly comprised of new kids on the block who have established names within the American doom and epic metal communities. Pale Divine’s vocalist/guitarist Dana Ortt, drummer Darin McCloskey and bassist Ron McGinnis united with former Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini to form Mythosphere, a band that smoothly bridges true heavy metal with powerful, detailed prog rock. Mythosphere—apparently meaning “the sacred narrative that permeates human life,” according to a press release—was born in 2021. Cruz Del Sur Music will release the project’s debut album, “Pathological,” on November 18. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Gnipahålan

Gnipahålan is a Swedish translation for Gnipahellir, the name of a mystical cave in Norse mythology. The moniker perfectly suits the Swedish black metal project that oozes with mystery and an unmistakable spiritual element. Aside from the drum work, Gnipahålan is the brainchild of Swartadauþuz, who runs Ancient Records and Mysticism Productions, in addition to having performed with nearly a couple dozens bands. German label Purity Through Fire Records released the act’s second full-length, “I Nordisk Vredeslusta,” today on CD with a vinyl release slated for next year. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: ZeTA

Science fiction themes aren’t by any means new to metal. Just consider bands as varied as Nocturnus, Voivod, Timeghoul and The Faceless. But the American band ZeTA, featuring members residing in Ohio, Illinois and Arizona, is an underground band who is doing it well in its delivery of melodic black/death metal that strays, relatively speaking, from the excessively beaten path. The lineup’s resume includes notable acts like Limbsplitter and Drogheda, and considering that the band only has a couple of 2017 EPs to its name in spite of forming in 2008, it’s safe to assume that ZeTA has very much been regarded as a side project. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Reincarnated

Southeast Asia has been a longtime wellspring of heavy metal passion, quite often inclined to the darker side, to be sure. While this is more so the case in terms of the appreciation and fandom of all things metal, creative bands have indeed burst forth as well. The maniacal, blackened death metal entity Deiphago originally emerged from the Philippines, and black thrashers Impiety was born in Singapore—to name a couple of the leading lights. More recently, a fierce death/doom act by the name of Reincarnated—comprised of scene veterans from bands like Savage Deity, Oldskull, Shambles, Nocturnal Damnation, Dark Mystery, and Lotus of Darkness—surfaced from Thailand five years ago. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Thulsa Doom

Thulsa Doom is known by many fans of dark and brutal fantasy, a fictional character created by Robert E. Howard who utilized the twisted, evil wizard in many of his works, most notably in Conan the Barbarian. It’s also the name of an Italian death metal band that emerged in 2018. The trio made an impression with its stripped down, spirited demo “Realms of Hatred.” Fast forward four years, the same label that issued said debut, Invictus Productions, is slated to release the band’s debut album, “A Fate Worse Than Death,” on September 30. Thulsa Doom’s first long player is most certainly worthy of the attention of fans of classic eighties and early nineties death metal. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Skelator

Seattle’s speed metal beast Skelator has been dishing out its dramatic and epic thrashing speed metal since 1998. At the band’s onset, Skelator initially emerged from San Diego and has since released numerous demos, albums and splits. The quintet now returns with an effort that embraces their fanaticism for Star Trek. Gates of Hell Records is set to release the band’s four-song EP, “Blood Empire,” on September 30. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Mass Extinction

One of the distinguishing facets of grindcore is the prominence of sociopolitical commentary. Mass Extinction is faithful to that template as the New Jersey based band drives forth with a heartfelt vegan perspective. A press release states that “this is anti-human crust-grinding annihilation for total animal liberation!” The grind act released its debut full-length, “Never-Ending Holocaust, digitally in 2020, and Horror Pain Gore Death Productions is poised to release it on August 19. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Kryptamok

Finland is home to seemingly countless metal bands, so much so that you may have encountered a regularly recycled meme depicting a promo pic of a band in the forest that includes the caption: “75% of a Finnish park ranger’s job is rescuing metal bands that get lost shooting album covers”. Levity aside, Finland boasts a rich history of black metal, from Beherit and Impaled Nazarene to Sargeist and Horna. There’s a newer kid on the block who isn’t exactly paving new ground, but the passion and drive behind their timeless black metal makes them worthy of attention. While Kryptamok only has a demo and a full-length under its collective bullet belt, they’re poised to raise hell once again. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Ritual Dictates

Vancouver’s formidable duo that operates under the moniker that is Ritual Dictates has technically been in existence since 2014. However aside from their debut album “Give In To Despair” that was released in 2020, they haven’t left much of a trace at all. But that album was one hell of a release, undoubtably unique and adventurous, to say the lease. They seem to have hit their stride now, though, as they’re poised to release their sophomore album, “No Great Loss,” on October 7 through Artoffact Records. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Cirkus Prutz

Sure, describing some music or any form of art as “cheesy” can certainly be a pejorative. That is not always the case. Sometimes, noticeable excess can be endearing and enjoyable. Case in point: Sweden’s Cirkus Prutz is a slightly metallic take on blues rock. However authentic or not the expression of the blues and the American South may be in question with the quartet, yet few hard rock/metal fans are likely to deny how likable and upbeat Cirkus Prutz’ music is. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Atramentum

One would think that underground metal is perpetually abundant with forward-thinking, innovative music. While that’s the case with subgenera as they emerge, maniacal devotion has typically led to a prominent degree of homogeneity within most styles. But within the cracks certain bands maintain their resolve to create music that matters, no matter how many or few people will latch on. For a decade now, the Atramentum has been sharpening its tools to create a sonic sculpture of bizarre, left-field black metal that’s truly its own. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Sign of Evil

Sign of Evil has only been around for a couple of years, but the South American entity stands apart from its continents’ dark metal bands that typically plumb the depths of all things old school Sepultura, Sarcofago, Mortem and Pentagram. Sure, the aforementioned bands’ vile and bestial blackened sensibilities are evident, yet there’s a clearly psychedelic quality at hand with Sign of Evil that unfortunately isn’t too common in extreme metal. The awesome psychedelic Floridian death metal outfit Wharflurch, covered last year in this weekly column, comes to mind as a band that’s similarly reaching forward toward this relatively newer kind of extremity. Sign of Evil was born two years ago, the brainchild of the band’s driving source, the man bearing the ever-so-eloquent pseudonym Witchfucker. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Static Abyss

For this weekly column, I typically like to dig into the underground for either undiscovered, new talent or bands that have been around but have remained under the radar in spite of their high-caliber music. Once in a while, however, I’ll spotlight familiar underground faces who have congealed into formidable new entities. Case in point: A couple of members of the pioneering death metal beast Autopsy have banded together to create Static Abyss, a paradoxically primal and majestic expression of death/doom metal. Peaceville Records will release their debut album, “Labyrinth of Veins,” tomorrow on multiple formats. More...

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Unearthing Tales of a Therion

We have recently enjoyed countless YouTube videos of “supergroup” styled lineups performing one-off cover songs since bands have recently been hindered in many ways due to the pandemic. Guitarist Scott Sargeant (Laaz Rockit, Skinlab, M.O.D.) considered doing the same with friends he’s known throughout his years of touring, but he wanted to take a slightly different path with Tales of a Therion. Instead of performing adored cover songs, Scott wanted to write an original song—presented via the horror-flick inspired video below—that would pay tribute to a band that made an impression upon him during his formative years: Celtic Frost. Accordingly, Scott paired up with Jörgen Sandström, whose resume includes Grave, Entombed and The Project Hate MCMXCIX, to write the song “This Means You Die!” More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Hallas

Sweden has had an abundance of artists who bow at the altar of metal and classic rock’s “roots bands,” if you will. While they’ve been grinding the axe for 20 years and some change, Witchcraft, for instance, has been worshipping classic bands of the sixties and seventies. And, of course, acts like Candlemass and Count Raven have been fundamental with regard to the establishment of doom metal in the eighties. More recently—since 2011, to be specific—Hallas has been making waves with its cross-pollination of proto-metal, seventies-based hard rock, psychedelic rock and folk. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Mosaic

Germany’s Mosaic has been making noise since 2005, and their earliest releases, including the stunning debut full-length “Old Man’s Wyntar,” represented a black metal band that wasn’t afraid to be bold and step outside of the lines of convention. Yes, it was primitive and bleak—adequately captured by a cold production aesthetic. And yet there were beautiful melodies and epic elements that were film score-like in nature. They’ve continued upon their own path through several releases including their significantly more experimental sophomore album, “Secret Ambrosian Fire,” that was released in 2019. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Morbid Cruelty

Raw, primitive dark metal has been exploding in South America since the early days of Pentagram, Sepultura, Sarcofago and Mortem. Chile’s Morbid Cruelty is a newer act that’s comprised of two members who have been active with bands like Atomic Aggressor, Evil Madness, Perversor and Valefar. The unit initially banded together in 2018, releasing a desirably unrefined cassette demo a year later. They digitally released their debut album, “Holodomor,” last August; and now the renowned German extreme metal label is poised to properly shine a light upon the spirited duo by releasing a vinyl version of said debut on April 8. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Necrom

Ukraine is currently plastered across all forms of media at the moment because of the Russian invasion. Beyond the immediate human suffering, the lasting geopolitical consequences are and will be profound and seemingly immeasurable. Germane to our world of heavy metal, however, the Ukrainian metal scene has long been vibrant, prominently inclined toward the darker side of things. Nocturnal Mortum is one of the more notable names, and some of that black metal band’s current and former members are involved with Necrom, a relatively newer death metal band that guzzles from the goblet of classic European death metal line in the vein of Asphyx, Entombed and Carnage. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Intolerance

While the disturbing sounds may be appealing to death metal fiends the world over, and it’s good to see the abundance of bands paying homage to the classic eighties and nineties era of death metal, the adoration has led to a noticeable over-saturation of the scene. Spain’s Intolerance, very intentionally, is not here to re-invent the wheel of death metal. But the Spaniards stand apart because of their straight-forward songwriting and jam-room feel. They’ve released a demo and a thoroughly enjoyable EP since their inception in 2015, and they’re finally about to unleash their debut full-length. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Pestilength

Not to be confused with the classic death metal band Pestilence, an obscure, burly and otherworldly act known as Pestilength has been vomiting its cacophonous sounds since 2018 from the Basque region of Europe. The act has been quite prolific in spite of its short span of existence, having released various singles and EPs, in addition to a demo, a split and the fantastic debut “Eilatik” in 2020. The anonymous duo, operating under the pseudonyms “N.” and “M,” are set to release their sophomore full-length, “Basom Gryphos,” on March 7 via Nuclear Winter Records on CD. The label will co-release the vinyl version with Sentient Ruin, the tape version with Goat Throne. More...

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